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Manchester United aim to cut City’s lead


Manchester United’s forward Marcus Rashford (2L) celebrates a goal during the UEFA Champions League group A football match SL Benfica vs Manchester United FC at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on October 18, 2017. PHOTO: PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

There will be midweek fixtures in the Premier League and they will kick off tonight with four very interesting games. Manchester United will travel to Watford with the aim of getting a victory and cutting Manchester City’s lead at the top to five points temporarily, while Spurs will be looking to get back to winning ways when they visit Leicester. I will be previewing tonight’s fixtures below.

West Brom vs Newcastle
The Baggies and the Magpies have been struggling a lot recently and both teams will be hoping for a change in fortunes when they clash at The Hawthorns tonight. We haven’t gotten to the halfway stage of the season and this game can already be described as a relegation six-pointer as Newcastle are in fourteenth place on the log with fourteen points and have lost their last four games, while West Brom, who are winless in their last eleven league games, are in seventeenth place with eleven points.


The importance of this game cannot be overemphasized by both managers. The Baggies snapped a four-game losing streak over the weekend in the most unexpected of places when they held Tottenham to a draw at Wembley and that result should have given them some sort of boost as they welcome Newcastle tonight. Rafael Benitez and his Newcastle side were thrashed 3-nil at home by Watford over the weekend and will desperately need to put up a better performance if they hope to avoid a fifth loss on the bounce. The Magpies should be boosted by Isaac Hayden, who returns from a one-match ban and should slot straight back into midfield. This would be a very tight game and could swing either way.

Watford vs Manchester United
The Hornets will be hoping to sting the Red Devils at Vicarage Road tonight when they host Manchester United in the Premier League. Marco Silva can be very proud of what he has achieved with this Watford team so far this season as they are currently eighth on the table and have the third best away record in the league. They are currently on a run of two straight wins after losing three straight and this game will give them an opportunity to inflict damage on one of the league’s ‘big boys’ after losing to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City already this season.

The last time they hosted a team from Manchester in the league, they were hammered 6-nil and they would want to definitely rectify that as they host another Manchester team. Jose Mourinho’s team started the season like a house on fire, but they have failed to maintain that momentum in recent games despite still getting the needed results, they have sort of struggled and needed a deflected goal to see off Brighton last weekend. They also haven’t been travelling to well as they have lost three of their last four away games in all competitions.

Manchester United had always enjoyed playing against Watford over the years as the Red Devils had won their last ten games against them before last season’s 3-1 loss at this same venue, so they would be wary of the threat carried by the Hornets tonight. Troy Deeney is available again for Marco Silva after serving a three-game ban, while Miguel Britos will be a doubt for this one. Jose Mourinho will be hoping that either Eric Bailly or Phil Jones might be fit enough to return in this game, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have to settle for another spot on the bench in midweek. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw will not be part of the team as they didn’t even travel with the team.


Leicester City vs Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham will go into this game against Leicester tonight not in the best of forms as they have only been able to get one win from their last four league games, a run that has seen them slip out of the top four. They won their first four away games of the season before losing their last two away games and will not want to make it three away losses in a row as that will greatly damage their chance of being taken as serious contenders for the title.

However, Harry Kane seems to have started scoring again after a mini-drought as he salvaged a draw for Spurs last weekend and also found the back of the net in the UCL against Dortmund. The last time Spurs visited the KingPower stadium, they put six goals past their host with Harry Kane scoring four, a repeat performance would be ideal for Mauricio Pochettino’s men. The hosts are winless in their last three games and a game against Tottenham isn’t what they would have wanted at this point as they hope to snap out of that run. They had an early advantage away at Hammers last weekend, but they could not hold on to it as West Ham United fought back to secure a 1-1 draw at the end.

Claude Puel will be without Matty James, Robert Huth and Adrien Silva for this fixture, while Victor Wanyama and Toby Alderweireld are both ruled out for Tottenham, while Harry Winks is a doubt due to illness. Spurs had been really good on their travels this season before their losses to Manchester United and Arsenal and I think they will be able to avoid a defeat and probably pick a win tonight.

Brighton vs Crystal Palace
The Eagles won their second game of the season last weekend when they defeated Stoke City 2-1 at Selhurst Park and that helped them keep pace with other bottom dwellers in the league as they try to fight their way off the bottom of the table. A victory against Brighton tonight will see them off the bottom albeit temporarily depending on the outcome of other games tomorrow night.

They have only lost once in their last four Premier League games, which was a narrow 1-nil loss to Tottenham at Wembley. Wilfried Zaha has been playing well and this has helped the fortunes of the team. Brighton are undefeated in their last six matches at home in all competitions and are a very organised side. They held their own against Manchester United last weekend as it took just a heavily deflected goal to deny them a deserved point from that trip. Chris Hughton can be thrilled with the job he has been doing with Brighton in the league this season as they are currently in ninth place in the standings.

José Izquierdo is expected to return to the starting XI tonight after being benched last weekend by the Sea Gulls, while James McArthur will miss out on this one for Crystal Palace. This match might be won by the team that can recover quickest from the weekend’s games and could go either way.

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